Tuesday, 14 October 2008

By the way, it's legal!

The following piece is advice taken from an advisory service for squatters based in London -- and is worth taking on board (as well as learning more about) :
"Squatting is still legal so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Only squatting on embassy grounds is a crime, though if you squat in someone else's home (or in some circumstances their intended home) you can be asked to leave and arrested if you don't. The 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act created an offence of failing to leave premises within 24 hours of being served with an Interim Possession Order. Other possession orders carry no criminal sanctions.

Apart from that, there is nothing criminal or illegal about squatting. Squatting is unlawful, not illegal. That means it is a civil dispute between two people, dealt with in a civil court, which the state provides to be a 'referee' between them.

A criminal matter, on the other hand, is a dispute between the state and a person who is accused of doing something illegal. It will be dealt with in a criminal court, and will almost certainly involve the police.

The Police have nothing to do with civil disputes.

The main criminal laws about squatting are in part II of the Criminal Law Act 1977 (Sections 6 to 12). They mean that squatters need to take care not to commit a criminal offence, but they also provide some limited protection for squatters. squatting is not a crime, but trying to evict squatters forcibly can be!

It is important to understand these sections if you are going to squat. SECTION 6 may protect your home. SECTION 7 is the one you have to be careful about.

The normal way of evicting squatters is that the landlord goes to a civil court for a possession order under Civil Procedure Rule 55.

All that really exists of what is known as 'Squatters Rights' is the right not to be evicted, except by a proper legal process and the fact that if a place is continuously squatted for 12 years or more it may become the property of the occupiers (adverse possession). However the rights gained through adverse possession are now much harder to enforce."
So, there you go.